Government & Constitution

CIA Report on Enhanced Interrogations to be Released

The push-and-pull over whether the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” produced information that saved lives continues.

Now, the Obama administration is reportedly about to release a redacted version of the May 2004 CIA report by former Inspector General John Helgerson, a previously classified collection of interrogation tapes, internal documents and procedural texts detailing the nitty-gritty of detainee treatment in Guantanamo Bay.

The CIA may release the document as early as today, depending on court action and the Obama administration’s agenda.

The conflict pits the CIA, which wants to retain the report because their release will incite violence against U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and provide strategic information to enemies, against the Obama administration, which — going along with its campaign promise of transparency — is urging the CIA to release this document, essentially as per an appeal by the ACLU in the midst of its lawsuit seeking the publicizing of Combatant Status Review Tribunals.

The CSRT’s are the administrative reviews of Guantanamo Bay detainees established by the Bush administration to determine whether detainees should be kept in confinement or released.

The CIA is concerned about security measures: That counterterrorism forces will be set back by the public release of sensitive information detailing their procedures for handling and interrogating detainees.

A much-redacted version of the report was released in May 2008, but, through the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU has demanded full disclosure of the report.

“Government documents show that hundreds of prisoners were tortured in the custody of the CIA and Department of Defense, some of them killed in the course of interrogations,” states the ACLU on the “Accountability for Torture” page of its website.

The CIA has approached the issue cautiously; while it has reevaluated the material, it is still hesitant to release the document in its entirety.

The ACLU and critics believe that full disclosure of the report will call into question the legality of and heap scrutiny on the CIA’s interrogation procedures and treatment of political prisoners.

Coupled with the recent release of bloody detainee photos as well as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s accusations of CIA misinformation, release of the report will strike a devastating blow to the already downtrodden (to say the least) morale of the CIA, which is headed by the ever-unreliable Director Leon Pannetta.

The Obama administration continues to cherry-pick the documents it releases, apparently to control the record of whether the CIA interrogations were successful or not.  Press reports about the CIA report now being released say that it proves the interrogations wer unsuccessful in producing valuable intelligence.  

But there are many other documents, a specific small group of which former Vice President Cheney asked President Obama to release.  Cheney contends that these documents – records of interrogations, etc. – prove that the interrogations produced valuable, actionable intelligence which resulted in the interdiction of terrorist attacks and the saving of American lives.

If the release of this material — which has been defined as classified, as is much CIA material — is such a talking point for the Obama administration, then why did it refuse to release the few documents that Dick Cheney requested?

Cheney has vehemently argued that the documents he requested justify the CIA’s use of waterboarding. He claims that sensitive information was retrieved from the detainees during the procedures that aided the U.S. war effort and protected Americans.

It is conspicuously un-empathetic for the Obama administration to kowtow to the whims of the ACLU by releasing hundreds of pages of sensitive material, but not to face Cheney’s unmet challenge regarding the handful of documents he has called into question.

In fact, the response to Cheney has been thickheaded, dismissive and worst of all pompous.
If Democrats, like Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D.-Mich.), are so ready to dismiss Cheney’s claim as false, then why don’t they just release the documents? What harm could they possibly do if they are so arrogantly sure that Cheney is wrong?

Because if Cheney’s accusations are true, and the documents do indeed indicate that advanced interrogation techniques were productive, then the Dems stand much to lose.

And if he were categorically wrong, then they would certainly have pushed for the document to be released in order to decimate his claims. Even the other side of the aisle is increasingly domineered, bullied and pushed around by Obama administration cronies and wailers like Sen. Levin.

The bottom line is that the Obama administration and its minions are promoting the controversy by playing politics.  And, unfortunately, Congressional Republicans are no where to be seen.  

Why aren’t the Republicans demanding that the Obama administration publish the documents Mr. Cheney requested?


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